In October of 2014, 4 1/2 years ago, I wrote a blog post about a new neighborhood that was beginning to be built over rail yards west of Penn Station, Hudson Yards. In it, I concluded, “To walk in Hudson Yards is to be present at the birth of a new neighborhood, one that seems limitless in terms of how it will change the landscape of New York City.” In October of 2017, I was able to take a hardhat tour of the site, well on its way but still with far to go before being open to the public (see below for a few photos from that visit).
A few days ago, in March of 2019, I was able to spend an afternoon in Hudson Yards only a few days after its official opening. Hudson Yards is not even midway to completion, and after following this development for so long, I thought there was a good chance I might be underwhelmed or (worse) disappointed. And yes, yes, yes, I read the NY Times review, and was told by the New Yorker that there is no good reason why any resident would visit Hudson Yards – but I would much rather experience something and make my own judgements! Spoiler alert – I enjoyed Hudson Yards far more than I had expected and see myself spending a lot of time here soon and in years to come. If you don’t understand Hudson Yards or dislike the constant change in NYC’s skyline and neighborhoods, check out my photos and experience – perhaps you will then also go and make your own decision. Like it or not, Hudson Yards is here and is going to be a major player in this city.
When approaching Hudson Yards, it’s hard to miss. Even this half, Hudson Yards East, of the total planned development is still partially under construction.
I walked to Hudson Yards from Midtown West, but an extension of the 7 subway line lets you off there if you are coming from elsewhere in the city.
The focal point of the development is the Vessel, a public sculpture created by Thomas Weatherwick. I will describe the process of exploring it later in this post. The building just behind the Vessel is the Shed, a performing arts venue that is being curated by Alex Poots, former Artistic Director of the Park Avenue Armory. The Shed is creatively designed so that it is a flexible space suitable for many different types of events.
The Shops at Hudson Yards are extremely welcoming, with high ceilings and wide walkways. I saw many restaurants I am interested in trying.
And so many shops, including smaller ones like Dylan’s Candy Bar and Li-Lac Chocolates:
The most famous retail tenant is the first Neiman Marcus in New York City:
The experience inside the Shops is very pleasant. There were lots of people (surprisingly so, just a few days after opening) but enough space not to feel crowded.
Eventually there will be the highest open-air observatory in the Western Hemisphere here, called the Edge. I will be there when it opens (likely next year)!
Leaving the Shops to climb the Vessel, I had a look at the Shed and can’t wait to start experiencing art here.
The Vessel (wisely, I believe) limits the number of people entering at any given time by requiring timed tickets, but they are free. I reserved mine in advance here but they do save some same-day tickets as well that can be picked up near the Vessel. However, if it’s a busy time, your ticket might be for a few hours from when you pick it up.
The Vessel is a concrete and copper outdoor sculpture with 2500 steps and 154 flights of stairs, eventually reaching a height of 16 stories. There is an elevator and ramps to make it accessible, but if you are able to explore it by foot, I recommend doing so. The stairs don’t seem too intense since they are short flights and you keep stopping to look at the views (however, you must wear comfortable shoes, and my calves were sore the next day despite not thinking it had been too bad while on the Vessel). It’s also not possible to do a direct trip, because the sections keep going up and down on each level. What I did was to go up (back and forth) on the Hudson River side to see those views, walk around the top to see all the views from there, and then walk back on the east side of the Vessel to see different views from that side.
The reflective quality of the copper led to some interesting photos. I predict that eventually everyone will be taking selfies of their reflection like you see people do in Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
What I found most interesting was the way the pattern of the sculpture kept changing at different levels.
Even the pattern of people on the sculpture constantly changes so that your experience of what the Vessel looks like is fluid. I look forward to seeing it at different times of day (sunset or evening would be very interesting) or different weather patterns. The Vessel is open in all kinds of weather, and I noticed that the steps were rough concrete to make them safer during rain or snow.
Since I am a real estate agent, I have also been to the sales offices at Hudson Yards. which are amazing. There is a 360 degree movie inside a room that really gives you the feeling for the neighborhood as it develops, for instance. 15 Hudson Yards is already closing apartments, and 35 Hudson Yards has just begun selling (the developer of Hudson Yards likes this building so much he will be living in the penthouse when it is completed). There are also two rental buildings available, 1 Hudson Yards and Abington House. From Hudson Yards, you can walk the High Line to the Whitney Museum, one of my favorite strolls in all of the city. I thought when on the Vessel that the people-watching from some of these apartments will be a little like some of the apartments elsewhere on the High Line, like the fabulous Zaha Hadid 520 West 28th. From others you will have spectacular city views of the Empire State or One World Trade buildings, or Hudson River views (from the larger and higher apartments, you can have them all!). Reach out to me if you would like to check out apartments at Hudson Yards. My belief is that this entire part of town will appreciate in value due to this development, much as the creation of Lincoln Center transformed its neighborhood
So go to Hudson Yards and decide for yourself what you think. It’s often difficult for people to adjust to change, but the constant drive for metamorphosis is what has made, and continues to make, New York City the vibrant evolving place to live that it is.
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